With Every Letter, the first book in the Wings of the Nightingale series, is the story of Lt. Philomela (Mellie) Blake, a flight nurse and Lt. Thomas MacGilliver Jr. an engineer who begin a relationship through anonymous letters during World War II. Mellie was raised in the jungles of the Philipines where her father worked as a botanist. She grew up without real friends and depended on a scrapbook her mother created for her with 'paper' friends. Through the years she added pictures of real people who she felt needed a friend. She also included pictures of real people who she felt needed a friend. Such as a young boy who's father was put to death because he had committed murder.
As Mellie begins her life as a flight nurse she is made aware that she doesn't really know how to make friends. In order to boost morale Mellie's commanding officer starts a letter writing campaign with her husband's Engineer Aviation Battalion stationed in England. Mellie really doesn't want to participate but her commanding officer suggests strongly that she does. This starts the anonymous letter writing relationship between Mellie and Tom. Tom gives the name of Annie to Mellie and she in turn calls him Ernest.
Tom is the son of a convicted murderer who was put to death. In order to prove he is nothing like his father, MacGilliver the Killiver, he smiles all the time. Through his letters he is able to open up his heart and show who he is and Mellie is able to do the same. While Tom easily makes friends he has a hard time leading his platoon. Mellie has a hard time making friends and because of her shyness the other nurses think she's a snob. Through their letters Tom and Mellie learn from each other and before long they find themselves falling in love.
Tom adopts a stray dog that he quickly falls in love with and names Sesame. During a stop to pick up wounded, Mellie encounters Tom and through comments he makes and his dog Sesame she realized Tom is her "Ernest". She also finds that Tom is the same person she has a picture of in her scrapbook. She thinks Tom is so handsome and convinces herself they can never meet because she thinks she is very plain and he wouldn't be attracted to her.
The characters of Mellie and Tom were so very real to me that I find myself still thinking about them. To me, when an author can make me love a character enough that I can't forget them, they have a true gift. Ms. Sundin definitely has a gift in creating real, believable characters. I found a lot of myself in Mellie. She reminded me of my youth when I was so very, very shy and because I was an Air Force brat we traveled a lot and I was always trying to make friends only to have to say goodbye when one of our fathers got transferred. With Each Letter is a portrait of relationships. The relationship of Tom with his men and his dog. The relationship of Mellie with the other flight nurses. The relationship between Mellie and Tom and their relationship with God.
Each time I read a Sarah Sundin creation I am blown away. From the first page I am drawn in and feel as if I am right their with the characters. In the Wings of Glory series I experienced being in the cockpit of a B-17 Flying Fortress. Now with the Wings of the Nightingale series I know what the men went through when they had to repair landing strips during WWII in Africa and Italy. I rode along with the patients and Mellie in the belly of the C-47. I was there. I felt what the characters felt and experienced what they saw. I wasn't told the story, it was painted on the canvas of each page and it drew me in from the very first page to the very last. I can hardly wait until the next book in this series.
I would highly recommend With Every Letter to anyone who enjoys good fiction and stories set during WWII.
On a 5-Star scale = 5 STARS!!!!! An EXCELLENT read.
* Available September 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.*
I would like to thank Donna Hausler and Revell publishing for my review copy. I received my copy for free in order to read and give my honest review, which I have done.
Sarah Sundin is the author of A Distant Melody, A Memory Between Us, and Blue Skies Tomorrow. In 2011, A Memory Between Us was a finalist in the Inspirational Reader's Choice Awards and Sarah received the Writer of the Year Award at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. A graduate of UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy, she works on-call as a hospital pharmacist. During WWII, her grandfather served as a pharmacist's mate (medic) in the Navy and her great-uncle flew with the US Eighth Air Force in England. Sarah lives in California with her husband and three children.
Smiles & Blessings,